contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Creative Halloween Treats

This collage is 6 inches by 6 inches on paper. It includes papers I have prepared and a few snippets of found marks from the back of an old black and white photograph. As of yet it is still untitled. There is something cozy about making small collage in the evenings. And sooner than you think it will be time for the International Collage Exchange, an event in which I enjoy participating.

Today in the studio I was seized with some sort of energy and began to paint with my bare hands on a large birch panel. I had done a bit of that in my last piece, but today I painted and painted with the tips of my fingers, the palm of my hand and with gesture. It was fun, and resulted in a more organic set of marks. It seemed to me the marks I was making were more powerful than marks I have made in other ways. I’m curious to see how I feel about the piece when I go see it again tomorrow. I have also been marking on collage papers, some of which you see in the side bar.

I have always been the kind of person who prefers a treat to a trick. Here are a few blog treats you might enjoy.

As a visual treat I invite you to see the non-objective paintings and prints of Cheryl Taves, an artist from British Columbia, Canada. Her work can be seen here .

Here are some encaustic pieces I found interesting by Caite Dheere.

Annie Dillard is a compelling writer, as you know. If you wonder what it might be like to take a writing class taught by Annie you may enjoy reading this account of just such a class. The best parts are towards the last half of this essay. “You are the only one of you, she said of it. Your unique perspective, at this time, in our age, whether it’s on Tunis or the trees outside your window, is what matters. Don’t worry about being original, she said dismissively. Yes, everything’s been written, but also, the thing you want to write, before you wrote it, was impossible to write. Otherwise it would already exist. You writing it makes it possible.”

If you like poetry and the writing life you might like this blog by Rob Mclennan full of interviews of poets and writers. The most recent interview is of Poet Joe Rosenblatt. He said of his process “A poem might begin with a fragment, a musical line running through my upper story, and then this fragment germinates and tries to link itself up with other fragments and word linkages and then slowly ever so slowly a coherent pattern emerges on the page. The poem writes the poet, not the converse. It is a strange birthing process.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Nonobjective Art!

October Winds, 14 inches by 14 inches on birch panel. Mixed media with collage by Leslie Avon Miller.

Can we talk? So if you make non-objective or very abstracted art, or alternative art how do you talk to yourself about the innocent questions or not so innocent comments people make about your work? Generally I try to only show my work to people who “get” it on some level. I don’t feel a need to try and carry on a conversation in a language I can’t speak or understand, so why would I try to talk about nonobjective art with people who look for objective subjects? Well, maybe those people are my relatives, and they asked to see my work. Or maybe they are lovely friends who really are interested because the art is mine.

What have people seen in my work? How about a rabbit standing by a rock? Or a tree, or an alien? Or a magic fairy? Oh the list goes on. I have generally learned not to show my work to people who are kindly and mildly interested. But I did it again…comments were “What is it?” And “oh…”

It’s as if I write poems in a language long lost and not understood and the rhythm, cadence and tones are not enough to know beauty when you hear it. Or perhaps I write music with no words, and the melody and the relationships between notes are ethereal and ancient, but leave the listener wondering how she can sing a catchy phrase in the shower?

Today I can laugh about it, and just keep on painting. I keep on painting because I love layers, and partially obscured marks, and I love colors and shapes and movement and mystery. I paint because I love the language. And I paint because I must. My life feels like a good fit if I paint; I feel like I am being who I am if I create. I create because that’s who I am and because I am compelled to do so. And because life is short and life is beautiful.

That’s one of the many things about blogging I find so worth while. I see work of other artists and I am thrilled to see their vision. And I see work that has pushed even further than mine and it makes me want to go down the path and find out what is around the creative corner awaiting me. I read eager words on blogs written by members of the tribe. And even if the artist speaks French, or Portuguese, and I only speak English it doesn’t matter, because we speak the language of Art.

“The artist is not a different kind of person, but every person is a different kind of artist.” Eric Gill

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Autumn Ambulation

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Seeking creative ideas, I went out walking.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rhythm of The Day

Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart.

Old Indian Saying

Rhythm of The Day
, 20 inches by 20 inches, mixed media on birch panel, by Leslie Avon Miller

After a six week hiatus during which I connected with people I love, tended to things around home and had a vacation I went back to the studio today. I had completed this painting prior to my break and forgot about it, so it was a nice surprise to find it again. I decided it was done.

Nancy Natale was kind enough to send me some information she had put together on photography of art work, so I worked with that today. Thanks Nancy. I’ve spent the day making marks, adding colors and shapes and playing more than working really. It’s been relaxed and satisfying. I look forward to creative time tomorrow. I feel a little greedy about it actually. Wishing everyone a lovely weekend.

Just as appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration. – Igor Stravinsky

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Junk Drawer

I can see it now. The Junk Drawer; to the left of the kitchen sink. It was a medium sized drawer – it held bits of stuff in a jumble – keys to things long lost housed in Early Tupperware; little jars of bits, screw drivers, broken little chains – the kind that held a key ring. A small hammer, a bit of coiled wire. Some string and a rubber band. Dice. A red pencil stub. Hooks, clips, a metal measuring tape and metal film canisters with screw tops filled with things that rattled. Thumb tacks. This was the drawer of the lesser things, the useful things, and the things to which she would let you have access. Everything belonged there, and we all used the junk drawer. It was where you found what you needed.

The drawer was heavy so you had to pull hard and lift up a bit to get it open, and a mighty shove with the 9 year old body was required to close it. The white drawer itself made a noise as it opened and then the stuff in it made a collective rattle so one always knew when the junk drawer was opened or closed. It was her drawer really. She was the Constant Collector, The Keeper, and she knew the value of all things. She quietly squirreled things away, not only in this drawer but in all the little “hidy holes” around our old quirky house.

My Mom must have cleaned out that drawer sometime after her divorce. She probably sorted all that stuff gathered over the years and kept at least some of it; certainly the tools and a key ring or two. The remnants are probably housed somewhere here at my house now. Later, when she had moved away and the kitchen was gutted for a remodel, the drawer itself must have been discarded; its usefulness as a container of one of her collections no longer valued.

It’s funny – the memories that choose to be kept.